Hemangioma is a noncancerous tumor, which means it cannot become cancerous. It is a bright reddish-blue enlargement of the blood vessel. It develops immediately at the time of birth or in the next 7-14 days of birth. Considered as a commonly found birthmark, they can be present anywhere from the head to the trunk of the body.
In a baby, hemangioma is commonly referred to as infantile hemangioma or strawberry birthmark. It is not cancerous and dissolves with time. It does not need treatment. However , if it is interfering with vision (sight), respiration (breathing), hearing, or other physiological functions, you must consult your doctor immediately.
Types of Hemangiomas
Some of the commonly found hemangiomas are given below:
● Liver hemangioma
Your doctor might state it as hepatic hemangioma. It is a noncancerous lump or growth in your liver. Liver hemangioma, also known as cavernous hemangioma, does not become cancerous, and it is rarely severe. You are likely to find them look like a reddish-blue spongy mass of tissue. Women with liver hemangiomas have a high risk of developing complications during pregnancy. Estrogen, the female hormone that rises during the pregnancy period, is suspected to aid the growth of some liver hemangiomas.
● Strawberry hemangioma
Strawberry hemangioma has various names. One of the commonly used names is capillary hemangioma. It is commonly seen on a person’s face, chest, back or scalp and mostly disappears by the age of ten.
● Cherry angioma
The underlying cause of cherry angioma is not known yet. It usually appears over the age of 40 over the trunk of the body and rarely has any symptoms. A cherry angioma is a mole-like skin growth made up of small blood vessels, or capillaries. It is the most common type of angioma.
It is rare for children to develop these noncancerous lesions. Cherry angiomas most commonly appear in adults older than 30 years.
Cherry angiomas are also known as senile angiomas or Campbell de Morgan spots.
These benign tumors are related to aging and tend to increase in number as a person becomes older.
Symptoms of Hemangioma
The prevalence of infantile hemangioma symptoms is divided into a timeline of birth, the child’s first year, and up to the age of ten until it finally fades away.
1. At the time of birth or a week or two later, you are likely to see red marks on some parts of the body like face, scalp, or chest.
2. As your child progresses towards the first year, the red mark seen at birth grows rapidly into a reddish-blue spongy mass of tissue. It protrudes out from the skin. If everything remains normal, the hemangioma will gradually start disappearing by the age of five.
3. Most of the hemangioma fades away by the age of ten, but a skin discoloration is common in those cases.
A liver hemangioma usually does not lead to any signs or symptoms but in extreme cases may cause,
● Pains in the upper right abdomen
● Decreased appetite as your stomach might feel full after having a small amount of food.
● Nausea and vomiting
You should never wait for the disease to progress . Seek medical care in case of any urgency.
Complications of Hemangioma
The complications due to hemangioma that might require you to seek the medical care urgently are,
● If you witness any bleeding from the protrusion
● Development of infection in hemangioma
● Sore development
● A rare complication of interference with vision, breathing or hearing during capillary hemangioma in a child.
Treatment of Hemangioma
Be it capillary hemangioma, liver hemangioma (cavernous hemangioma), or cherry angioma, it does not require any confirmation by blood tests. The doctor will not recommend any treatment at initial stages as they are known to disappear as the child grows, and they remain benign.
However , if the hemangioma starts to interfere and affect the eyesight, hearing capacity, or breathing, their treatment is expected to include oral medications like beta-blockers, corticosteroids, and laser surgery to remove it permanently at one go.
The following treatments are needed to treat liver hemangiomas:
● Surgical removal: Your doctor might suggest surgery to remove the mass if the hemangioma can be easily be cut off from the liver.
● Surgical removal of the part of the liver with the hemangioma: Under certain circumstances, the doctor may have to remove a part of your liver in addition to the hemangioma.
● Stopping the blood flow to the hemangioma: The blood flow can be cut off from the hemangioma through two procedures. They are:
o Hepatic artery ligation: In this procedure, the main artery is tied to stop the blood flow.
o Arterial embolization: In this procedure, medicine is injected into the artery to stop the blood flow.
By blocking the blood supply, the hemangioma will shrink or stop growing altogether. These procedures do not harm the healthy liver tissue as it can still get the required blood supply from the adjacent blood vessels.
● Liver transplant: Doctors suggest a liver transplant surgery if there is a very large hemangioma or if there are multiple hemangiomas, which cannot be treated through other methods (stated above). In this surgery, your liver is removed, and a donor’s liver is given to you.
Your doctor will advise the most preferred and the safest form of treatment after comparing the pros and cons as removal of the tumour might cause scarring.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What is the cause of hemangiomas?
The cause of hemangioma is not known yet. It appears in a child naturally by birth or can surface in the next 7-14 days of birth. It is usually painless and harmless.
2. Can hemangiomas burst?
Yes, a hemangioma can burst and lead to bleeding or infection, in which case the doctor’s intervention is mandatory. A doctor may provide medications to minimize the pain and stop the spread of infection.
3. How do hemangiomas go away?
Infantile hemangiomas occur at birth, or a week or two later. It starts to disappear with time and fades away by the age of ten. Your doctor might ask you to observe the hemangioma and the condition of the child on a regular basis and report if any change is seen.
4. What is the best treatment for liver hemangioma?
It depends on the condition and age of the patient. In the case of liver hemangioma, surgery could be required. Liver transplant surgery is extremely rare, but your doctor might perform in unlikely events where your hemangioma has become large or multiple.